Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 3: A Failure

I am finding myself really short fused. I had to run several errands this morning at work related to preparations for a good-bye party for my boss, and I didn't get to eat my mid-morning snack, and some time after 11am my colleague and co-planner was still running trying to get the next thing done and I just didn't have it in me. I cut out of the planning activities, and went to eat my snack. A co-worker walked in my office and I was feeling exasperated because I just wanted to eat my banana... and then he offered me a tip to make my bananas last longer. Another act of thoughtful solidarity.

The problem came at 5pm when I realized I had not prepared properly for my day...  I had to attend an evening meeting starting at 5:30, and I didn't bring dinner. The meeting was at a brewery. My coworkers ordered food for the table. It was happy hour and beer was $2. I came up $0.42 short because as you may recall I had $1.58 left for the week. The meeting went until after 7. I broke down and accepted their offer to share food.

I could blame my weakness on light-headedness due to lack of Calories. I tried to explain why the rules prohibit others from giving me food. But they said something about a time machine, that they would pretend they bought me the beer last week. I don't know why or how that could ever pass as convincing argument. Is my resolve to end hunger in America so easily undermined? Is this how our Representatives get talked out of doing what it takes to end hunger?

What's even worse is that as part of the planning for my boss's party tomorrow, I am in charge of bringing cake. So after I came home I went to the store and spent $4.86 on cake mix and frosting and baked a cake, something I absolutely could not have afforded to do on $33 this week.  I will not eat the cake. I will not eat the cake.

But this is one of the difficulties of this week: outside of breakfast, almost every meal has been a social occasion. This is indeed a very positive element in my life. And this week I have contemplated not attending several of these events in order to avoid the awkwardness of not being able to eat anything, or not wanting to tell yet another person about this thing I am doing, the SNAP Challenge (what's that? And so on...). I am certain if food stamps were a regular part of my life I would avoid many of these social situations because I could not afford them, and because I would not want to tell people over and over again about my circumstances. And I would lose out on all the benefits of those relationships...  support, companionship, and in the professional context furthering the work we do both together and individually.

I failed the Challenge today, but this failure revealed yet another limit of SNAP benefits: Having too small a SNAP benefit doesn't just limit your Calories, it limits your possibilities for Community.  I want to live in an America where each person has enough to be in relationship with others and gather around a table with something to share. It really doesn't cost a lot - a $2 beer or a $5 cake that feeds 20 people produce invaluable returns. 

1 comment:

  1. I should note that I couldn't have spent my last $1.58 on beer anyway because SNAP benefits do not cover alcohol....